On Friday, November 8th, Prof. Gary Schmidt, a Long Island native, flew in from Grand Rapids, Michigan to share with us his story of St. Martin de Porres. Prof. Schmidt grew up in Hicksville, but his career as a college professor and writer has brought him to Calvin College in Grand Rapids. Prof. Schmidt teaches children literature, medieval literature and writing at the college. Prof. Schmidt is a prolific author of children’s literature and young adult fiction. His most recent novel, Trouble, was published in 2008 by Clarion. He has received two John Newberry Honor Awards from the American Library Association, the first in 2005 for his novel Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy and the second in 2008 for his novel Wednesday Wars.
In his travels, Prof. Schmidt came across in a bookstore, a book about saints who loved animals. It was while reading a story about St. Martin and his care for the mice in the monastery that he was inspired to write his book about St. Martin. Martin de Porres, the Rose in the Desert, is the children’s book which tells the story of Martin’s life. Prof. Schmidt spent the day meeting all the children from Pre-K to 8th grade. He told them stories and encouraged them to become good readers and writers.
At the end of the day, each child went home with his/her own copy of Martin de Porres, the Rose in the Desert.